Detroit Lakes

Community solar model to directly benefit energy assistance recipients progresses!

September 2023

Wouldn't it be cool if community solar gardens could directly reduce the energy costs for people and families in low-income households? How can we make that happen, you ask? Well, we’re trying to figure it out!

A whole bunch of great people with The Chan Lab at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Detroit Lakes Public Utilities, Mahube-Otwa Community Action Partnership, Commerce Division of Energy Resources and CERTs have been working together to see how all the puzzle pieces fit. 

Image from slide deck on model functionality of program

Earlier this year, the Detroit Lakes Equitable Solar Access project successfully developed the first solar array to benefit local income-eligible households, including manufactured homes residents, who heat with electric heat.

With the array in place, the team involved is currently working on:


  • How to utilize and integrate the Energy Assistance process and program with the utility billing process and crediting for Energy Assistance clients.
  • An analysis of the criteria to prioritize Energy Assistance clients such that this model will deliver meaningful energy burden reduction to these households.
  • A bill analysis and documentation of how this approach can consistently benefit participating households, particularly those who heat with electricity and live in manufactured homes.

A recent webinar titled, An Equitable Solar Access Pilot Project in Minnesota benefitting Manufactured (Mobile) Home Residents, provided an in-depth overview and current status of the project. Check out the webinar slides and recording of all these smart and passionate folks getting waaaaay into the weeds for how to make this "simple" idea a reality. Hint: It isn't so simple. 

Webinar thumbnail

Sign up for our newsletter

We encourage reuse and republishing of this story. All Clean Energy Resource Teams stories are made available under the Creative Commons Attribution license, meaning you can share and adapt the work as long as you give us credit. We'd also love it if you link back to the original piece. Have questions or want to chat? Drop us a line.